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Repurposed Card Catalog Reveal

by | DIY, Home

UPDATE:  The card catalogs have found their permanent home here!

Well, this post has been one year in the making, and I finally finally FINALLY get to show off my new and beautiful repurposed card catalog!  Sometime last year, I saw some crazy lovely card catalogs and went on this binge of instant gratification – I WANTED a card catalog.  Now now now!  So I stalked Craigslist for a while and saw one for a reasonable price about 2 hours away from us in Connecticut.  I say reasonable because most of the card catalogs I saw on CL were small and expensive or large and ridiculously expensive, like over $1000 expensive.  The beauty I bought cost $300, but I paid my dues – Drew was grumpy bear having to borrow our friend’s SUV and drive me way out to Connecticut to lug this thing back and store it in the garage.  Grumpy bear continued as the card catalog sat in the garage through the rest of autumn, the cold weather, the morning sickness, the heat of the summer….and back into fall.  But now, after much nagging and procrastinating (I even did a roundup to try to motivate myself!) and lots of hard work on Drew’s part, I have two beautiful pieces for my attic craft room to hold everything my little heart desires.

One Dog Woof: Repurposed and Refinished Card Catalog Craft Storage

One Dog Woof: Refinished Card Catalog

Here’s an idea of what the card catalog looked like originally.  This isn’t ours, but it looked just like it.  The monstrosity had 72 drawers, the 3 drawers that slid out, and a solid base.  It weighed a ton because although the drawer fronts were solid wood, everything else was particle board.

At this point, I stopped taking photos of work in progress, mostly because the progress was at a snail’s pace.  The bottom of the catalog fell off when we transferred it to the garage, and we decided to leave it off.  We also thought about keeping it in one piece, but there was no way it was going to make it up to the attic in one piece, so I had Drew cut it in half.  I did lose the pull out writing surfaces because the cut was right through the middle, but sometimes, you just gotta make the sacrifice.

One Dog Woof: Card Catalog Reveal

We pulled out all the drawers, removed the fronts and all the fixtures.  Every surface was then sanded, primed, sanded, and painted with 2 to 3 coats of Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Kendall Charcoal.  The Advance paint is washable like latex paint, but smooths out very nicely like an oil based paint.  It hardens and cures well and I think it worked great for furniture, since I wasn’t in the mood to play with the ever popular chalk paint.

One Dog Woof: Card Catalog Split in Two

All the fixtures were polished one at a time with Brasso Multi Purpose Metal Polish: and an old shirt.  The fixture screws were replaced with steel screws, but we kept the screws that attached the drawer fronts to the drawers.  And in the process, Drew got himself a new toy, a small impact driver, so he didn’t have to do all that unscrewing and screwing back of all the pieces by hand.

Since the card catalog was cut in half, the bottom half needed a new top, so Drew cut a piece of plywood to fit and glued it in place.  The rough edges of cuts were shaved off and sanded, and both pieces were finished with casters at the bottom.  Even when they are completely loaded up, this preggo lady can move it around the room!

One Dog Woof: Card Catalog with casters
I’m now using one of the pieces to hold all of my small craft items, like embroidery floss, tools, jewelry findings, markers, paints, beads, buttons, and any other random tidbit that would fit in a drawer.

One Dog Woof: Card Catalog Renovation Reveal

One Dog Woof: Stamps in a Card CatalogA little OCD?  Maybe.

One Dog Woof: Store embroidery thread in a card catalogYes, I did wind all of my embroidery thread onto those little bobbins just to fit it all in.  But, oh, swoon!

The other piece holds all my sewing doodads, crochet and knitting tools, and a large portion of my yarn stash.

One Dog Woof: Repurposed Card Catalog
One Dog Woof: Cotton yarn fits in a card catalog
This was a huge project, but I seriously just sit in my craft room and stare at our handiwork and wonder how the heck we ever got around to finishing this thing.  I am so in love with my new furniture and Drew is glad that all those annoying crafty tools are finally moving out of the rest of the house and into organized little compartments out of his sight!



  1. Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    ChiWei…girrrrrl, this turned out incredibly! I remember you telling me about this project several weeks ago…and here it is all finished to perfection. I absolutely love the paint choice…and you were wise to chop that baby in two and add the wheels. I can tell that a lot of meticulous work went into this, but it was well worth it. The site of that drawer full of embroidery thread makes me want to stalk Craigslist and get a card catalog of my own. BEAUTIFUL!

  2. Laura

    Love love love it! So very jealous. Fabulously well done.

  3. Donna

    Love this, looks stunning!! Did you make the things you wrapped your embroidery flosses round or buy them? Only I’m sorting my stash too and one thing that’s currently sitting waiting is embroidery flosses!!
    Very jealous!
    Donna x

  4. Kelly

    It’s wonderful! 🙂

  5. Lisa @ Wine & Glue

    AHHHHHH! Now I want! Want so much!! I have absolutely no place for that and no money to buy it, but ….. WANT! Nice job, it’s beautiful!

  6. Kirsten @ One Tough Mother

    This is so incredibly fantastic! You guys did such a great job finishing it. I actually like it cut into two separate pieces. I didn’t realize how HUGE that thing was! LOVE THIS!

  7. Marilyn

    OMG ChiWei this is absolutely amazing! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

  8. Kara

    I love it!! It looks amazing!

  9. Steph @ meet.make.laugh.

    Wow what a big project! It looks great though and I imagine it will definitely help keep you organized!!!!

  10. Heather @ French Press

    AMAZING! what a gorgeous project – I would love something like this for my officce

  11. Pat F.

    That card box is awesome! I remember using those card boxes at the library all those years ago and it is fun to see how they are now recycled into to so many wonderful and clever ideas! Your card box sure holds many items and what a great way to keep organized! Thanks for showing us this nice card box!

    Pat F.

  12. Bethany

    I am so in love with this!

  13. Yvonne @ Sunnyside Up-Stairs

    I love this! I was planning to build a reclaimed wood version of a card catalog for my future craft room. I love how you’re using yours!

  14. ChiWei

    Wow, building your own card catalog? Now that’s a project! I agree, these things are so great for a craft room. I wish you all the best in your project – I’d love to see it if you complete it!

  15. ChiWei

    Thank you Pat! It does hold sooo many items. I had several plastic bins that have been emptied into these beauties, and now I don’t have to go crawling around in bottomless pits to find what I need!

  16. ChiWei

    Something like this would be awesome for an office – can you imagine all the rubberbands and paperclips it can hold?! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. ChiWei

    Thanks Marilyn!

  18. ChiWei

    It is ginormous! And super heavy with all that particle board. But I love the size – because I can fit more stuff in them!

  19. ChiWei

    Thanks Lisa! Yup, that was me a year ago – want want want! I didn’t have a place for it then either, so we made a place for it. I’ve never decorated a room around furniture before…but doing it now!

  20. ChiWei

    Hi Donna, thank you for your kind words! I bought the embroidery floss bobbins. I figured maybe a Silhouette could cut them, but I don’t have one of those (alas), so I just bought them. I found mine at Joann’s and I have to say, the DMC brand is better than the generic bobbins, if quality is a consideration – they were thicker and can be reused more easily. Hope that helps!

  21. ChiWei

    Thank you Laura!

  22. Ali Burtt

    This is so cute! And so functional! I just love card catalogs. Now I want one too. BTW, I found you via the Overflowing With Creativity link party.

  23. Corinna Ashley

    If someone would please email me- [email protected] if you find me a card catalog, i will love you forever. This is absolutely amazing and I am completely jealous! A chest of tiny drawers just tickles my heart strings!

  24. Lisa@ Creative Raisins

    I am seriously so jealous of this piece, I love it. ~ Lisa

  25. ChiWei

    Thank you Ali! I think everyone could use one, don’t you? 🙂

  26. ChiWei

    I totally get what you mean! I stalked Craigslist and went pretty far out to see what was available. When I went to pick it up, the lady said someone had called from about 10 hours away to come and get it if it wouldn’t sell!

  27. ChiWei

    Thank you Leslie!

  28. Ann

    This is SO cool!

  29. Katie Goldsworthy

    Wowzers! What a find! That is awesome. Thanks for linking up at Monday Funday!

  30. Alecia @ Chicken Scratch NY

    This is amazing! I can’t believe how much work you did! You are like pregnant superwoman.

  31. kathy baugher

    Gorgeous!! I absolutely love the color choice and beautiful pictures of your organized drawers. Thank you for sharing!

  32. Kristin

    Super love! Love it for stamps and floss. YEAH! It’s beautiful and I love all things organized!
    Beautiful post!

  33. Dria

    So loving this!! I have always loved catalog drawers. Love how you are using yours 🙂

  34. Rebecca, Soap Deli News

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I’d love to score a find like this one. Great work and thanks for sharing the results!

  35. PattyM

    This is a great project that turned out incredibly well. Cannot believe how you painstakingly painted each drawer and polished the brass. Most of the card catalogues that I have seen are wooden (almost always oak) and each drawer has a steel rod inserted through the front of the drawer and then through each card inside the drawer. I assume this was so that no one could pull out a card or re-file a card in the wrong spot. The bottom of the drawers are not solid which is why I’ve never bought one to store my craft supplies. If yours is made this way, how do you keep the supplies from falling through the bottom?

  36. ChiWei

    Hi Patty. Actually, mine was advertised as “solid wood”, but it’s really particle board and metal drawers. We had driven too far to not buy it, so we got it anyways. The fronts of all the drawers are solid wood, but the body is metal, and it didn’t come with rods, but it did come with metal dividers which I just left in place. I didn’t realize the wooden ones had open bottoms, I’m thankful now that our drawers were metal! Thank you for your sweet compliment!

  37. ChiWei

    Thank you! I count myself lucky to have found one at a good price!

  38. ChiWei

    Thanks Kristin! It’s great for all those little things that end up getting in every nook and cranny of every room. Would you believe I actually put things away now that I have a place to put them? 🙂

  39. ChiWei

    Thank you Dria!

  40. ChiWei

    Thanks! My husband wanted white, but I thought the fixtures would stand out more against a darker background, and because my craft room is all white. I love love love this color, for just about anything!

  41. Alli

    Awesome job! All the beautiful pics makes me want one.

  42. Bonnie @ Uncommon Designs

    This turned our soooo coollll!! Love the idea of this as storage. I am old enough to remember using these in school and at our local library! What a great repurpose! 😉 Bonnie @ Uncommon Designs

  43. Michelle

    Oh my goodness, totally love your finished project. It’s so attractive yet, functional and would be perfect in virtually any room of the house, especially the craft room or office. Thanks for sharing! Can’t imagine the time you put into it! Pinning and sharing on FB.

  44. Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl

    ChiWei, I am at a loss for words. This card catalog makeover is simply stunning! I love all that organization you have. Nice job.

  45. Emily

    This is awesome! I’m going to start stalking Craig’s list too! I want one!

  46. Ginger

    Loooooove this! Now I want one, too! 🙂

  47. ChiWei

    Thanks Ginger!

  48. ChiWei

    It should be a sport – this stalking of Craigslist. You never know what you’re gonna find 🙂

  49. ChiWei

    Thanks so much Brittany! Your words made my day 🙂

  50. ChiWei

    Thanks Michelle! I think my husband would have liked to put in a little less time, but we both feel it was totally worth it! Especially now that he doesn’t have to see my stuff all over the house 🙂

  51. Patti

    I’ve been looking for one too and this is absolutely beautiful. Well done.

  52. amy @ one artsy mama

    WOWIEE! I love the look of it, and I am uber jealous of all that storage space for supplies!!

  53. Jocie@OneProjectCloser

    love this!!! i need to find me a card catalog now! Thanks so much for linking up with OPC and Pretty Handy Girl to support Habitat. Sharing on FB later today. 🙂

  54. Lorna

    SOOOOOOO in love with this!!!! 😀

  55. Jessica@The Junk Nest

    I am in the process of putting my new craft room together. Trying to figure out how to arrange it and what type of storage to have is sooooo much work! But this….wow….this would really help with organizing all the little small stuff. I love it! Pinned it…and thinking about blogging about it over at my blog tonight!

  56. Angela @

    Wonderful job! That must have taken a lot of time! Love the nostalgia of the card catalogs… but I’m also thankful they’re now obsolete, LOL. Great find!

  57. azteclady

    I have storage envy!!! So pretty and so practical!

  58. ChiWei

    That’s so true Angela! I love the card catalogs, but I also love Google search, where I don’t have to figure out what time the library opens and then flips through cards and then find the books. Remember microfiche? Those were the days! 🙂

  59. Suzan

    Wow! Just found this post and I am equally in love with my library drawers – the instant obvious use for it holding all my craft tidbits! What i really love is the labelling, and that you can pull it out, pop it on the table and put it back again after use. My one is all separate units, consisting of two drawers each (I have ten units in total, so twenty drawers) and can stack them in whatever configuration. Mine a metal and still look rustic – they governemnt grey / blue is just how I like it. Enjoy crafting!

  60. ChiWei

    That’s exactly is Suzan – that I can pull the whole drawer out to do stuff, and then put it back in. Makes clean up easy and keeps the husband happy! 🙂

  61. Shelly

    oooooooooohhhh, le sigh…… Good for you! What a fantastic find! I fantasize about a card catalogue -but I actually do not know where it would fit, really. So fabulous to see how you have put it to good use!

  62. ChiWei

    Thanks Shelly!

  63. Marty Walden

    My dream is to have library card catalog drawers. Doesn’t mater where they go (ideally in the craft room). I just want them! Yours are amazing. ~drool~

  64. ChiWei

    Thank you thank you! I think I got really lucky with these 🙂

  65. Ellynne

    This looks fantastic and is so perfect. I especially love that you told us about the paint as I can use that info for current projects. You and your husband are a great team and an inspiration to those of us with art materials scattered everywhere!

  66. ChiWei

    Thank you! I’ll tell him you said that, haha!

  67. Lauren

    I absolutely am in love with this piece! You have inspired me to do this will my 72 drawer card catalog. (With a little spin of my own, of course) Did you sell the second piece? If so, could I ask for how much?

  68. Michele

    I hope I didn’t miss this info somewhere, but did the piece come with rods in each drawer? If so, how were you able to remove them? Thanks!

  69. Anita

    Curious about the rods in each drawer. Did you remove them? If so why?

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